Specialization

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert Heinlein, Time Enough For Love

I dislike Robert Heinlein. His novels mostly amount to ponderous diatribes. Nonetheless: this is an admirable set of goals for a human being to strive to achieve. Too frequently we focus on acquiring provincial skills, and we shut our minds to the greater wonder of the world. We learn only to change the oil in the car, or to play a C scale. Yes, those are useful skills. But they shouldn’t be the end goal. Rather, the end goal should be the cultivation of wisdom, and learning how to connect to other human beings (yes, even for us introverts!). What could be more important than comforting the dying, or being able to lead, or simply knowing how to listen?

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